If you’re not a hardcore Star Wars fan, or even if you are, keeping all the canonical lore straight can be challenging. Add in all the non-canonical stuff, and it can be straight impossible. It’s almost never more confusing than when Force powers are concerned. Across the movies, TV shows, comics, books, and video games, the powers wielded by Force-sensitive users have functioned somewhat like Batman’s utility belt, being whatever they needed to be for the story at the time and the medium (nowhere is this more evident than in the video games).
I was curious about just what powers are currently in Star Wars canon and the ones that used to be, so I started doing some research. While many Force powers are universal and commanded by both dark side and light side alike, there are some that are favored more heavily by one side or the other. Sith embrace powers that are painful and fearmongering, often involving overriding someone’s consent and bodily autonomy. The light side, on the other hand, tends to favor meditative and defensive spells, used for healing and self-control. As Force users grow more attuned to one side or the other, the ability to access powers associated with the other side becomes more difficult. If you’ve ever played D&D, you get the gist of powers that cater to one’s alignment and personality – it’s a similar thing here.
Universal Force Powers
First, there are some powers that are so basic and fundamental to the Force that they are used across the board by all: Light side, dark side, Sith, Jedi, and those in between. These are the “core powers” and include increased speed, increased jumping ability, telekinesis, telepathy and Force Sense. Consider these the building blocks of Force powers, the ones that won’t diminish regardless of what alignment a Force user chooses. The rest of the non-core universal powers are as follows:
(Also called: Animal Friendship, Beast Control, Beast Trick)
The ability to control an animal or group of animals, we’ve often seen it used across mediums to calm and tame large beasts. It’s not always used on aggressive animals, but it’s admittedly particularly useful when the Force user is about to be stomped by a large, rampaging beast. The animals can also be be used in battle, as mounts, or for guard work.
Noteworthy practitioners: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Bane, Qui-Gon Jinn, Jacen & Jaina Solo, others
Battle Meditation is the ability of a user to control the minds and hearts of people on the battlefield. It can be used to either bolster the morale and stamina of allies or to undermine the opposition’s will to fight. It can be quite effective in a large scale battle, helping to control entire fleets of ships or land battalions and allowing them to perform with efficiency. While this is a tactic mostly practiced now by the light side, it nonetheless has a long history with the Sith, who twisted the ability to suit their means and using it as a tool of utter domination rather than subtle influence.
Noteworthy practitioners: Odan-Urr, Darth Caedus, Arca Jeth, Nomi Sunrider, Joruss C’baoth
This is essentially the internal version of Battle Meditation, where a user turns that meditative willpower inward. One’s own morale and fighting effort are increased through meditation, enabling them to fight harder than normal and push past mental and physical boundaries. It’s also highly effective in fending off dark side Force powers that seek to cause despair or fear. As it encourages one to fight with more uncontrolled passion, so it’s not often used by more orthodox Jedi.
Noteworthy practitioners: Mace Windu, who used it to form his Vaapad fighting style
Think of this as a Force user’s Spidey-sense. Most Force users have a precognitive ability to sense danger, but this goes beyond that. Battle Precognition allows a person to sense the flow of the Force, allowing them to anticipate their enemy’s moves or an ally they’re fighting alongside, increasing reaction time and making them more effective in battle. It can be hit or miss, but a user can become better at it with practice – though it likely won’t help them if they’re up against a much faster foe.
Noteworthy practitioners: Anakin Skywalker, Chiss species (particularly females)
This is an ability that goes hand in hand with the Animal Bond power, enabling a user to speak to various creatures in a language that can be understood. It enables a rider to form a stronger bond with their mount, or to convey information that they’d otherwise be unable to. It’s more likely to be used by a wild Force user than a Jedi or Sith.
Breath Control is used in a few ways. The easiest explanation is that it’s the ability to hold one’s breath for a long period of time, but that’s something of an oversimplification. Rather, it’s a user overriding the body’s instinct to shut down after going without oxygen for too long, using the Force to maintain the small reserves of oxygen left in a user’s lungs. It’s obviously useful in situations where one finds themselves underwater, but also can even be used where the air is thin, making breathing and exertion easier. When combined with a Force barrier around the ear, nose, and throat, it can also be quite effective for getting through environments with toxic gas and airborne poison.
Noteworthy practitioners: Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker
(Also called: Farseeing, Clairvoyance)
Farsight is basically Star Wars’ version of scrying. A user can gain an impression of the events taking place in other places or times, coming to them in a series of emotions and images. Both Jedi and Sith are skilled in it and can use it to sense when allies are in danger, to sort through an event that happened in the past, or to predict a future outcome.
Noteworthy practitioners: Luke Skywalker, Palpatine, Valkorion, Darth Traya
A similar, rare power used by the Aing-Tii monks (and only ever taught to four members outside its order), Flow-walking enabled them to see the events of the past or future as if they were a river flowing past them. There are limitations to this power: The past can not be altered, one must remain anchored to the real world so as not to lose themselves, and the further back one tries to go the harder it will be to read the currents. Only Aing-Tii Masters are capable of viewing events that happened in the past by a century or longer.
Noteworthy practitioners: Aing-Tii monks, Aldar Melron, Benna Kol-Rekali, Bannon, Mahana Sira
(Also called: Force Absorption, Absorb Energy, Absorb/Dissipate Energy)
This handy ability gives Force users the ability to not just deflect but absorb a number of energies in order to replenish their own energy reserves or to harmlessly dissipate energy attacks meant to hurt them. All sorts of energy, like light, heat, electrical, kinetic, and lightsabers can be controlled and absorbed in this way, making it particularly effective in battle. While Lightsiders are the ones who use it most, Darksiders have also been known to use it, though they favor a modified and more dangerous version known as Force Drain (which we’ll get to shortly).
Noteworthy practitioners: Yoda, Count Dooku, Darth Plagueis, Obi-Wan Kenobi, others
Through intense practice and gaining an intimate understanding of the molecules of one’s body as well as the physics of the light spectrum, this is an invisibility cloak without needing a cloak and useful to species or droids not susceptible to Force Illusion. A user simply bends light around them in order to become invisible. It requires a great deal of concentration and focus, and most users only get as good as the visible light spectrum. However, master practitioners have been known to manipulate the ultraviolet and infrared light spectrums, too. There is a secondary type of Force Cloak which involves the user not bending light around themselves but removing all traces of themselves from the minds of observers. While easier, this second option isn’t effective on droids or large groups of people.
Notable practitioners: Darth Maul, Darth Traya, Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker
(Also called: Force Stealth, Buried Presence)
Not to be confused with Force Cloak, Force Concealment is specific to one’s Force sensitivity and alignment only. Force users can use it to conceal their alignment or to conceal their very presence from others who are Force-sensitive. When Darksiders use it specifically to hide their alignment, it’s known as False Side Light Aura. Force Concealment can be manipulated in a number of ways to varying success. A tracker skilled in Force Sense, for example, can likely see through someone’s Force Concealment and detect the presence of the Force around them. It, like Force Cloaking, is generally most effective when used by longtime practitioners who have made a career of stealth.
Notable practitioners: Darth Sidious, Vegere, Asajj Ventress, Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi
This one’s pretty simple. Those without a lightsaber can use this to deflect attacks from incoming projectiles such as blaster bolts and even certain Force powers, like chain lightning. Most Force users prefer to carry a lightsaber to deflect incoming attacks, but the ability is still there should they find themselves disarmed in combat.
Notable practitioners: Yoda, Darth Vader, Darth Sidious, Darth Tyranus, Kylo Ren
(Also called: Force Push)
This is a fun telekinetic ability, used both offensively and defensively, involving drawing objects (including living beings) close to the user before forcefully repelling them and flinging them away in all directions. It’s the Force Push but on a grander scale, affecting everything in a certain radius rather than a single opponent or two directly in front of you. Unsurprisingly, the area of effect increases according to how skilled the user is in the ability.
Notable practitioners: Kylo Ren, Rey, Darth Sidious
(Also called: Force Push, Spell of the Storm)
Another variation of the telekinetic Force Push, this one involves turning the air currents around an opponent into a maelstrom. It can lift and trap an opponent in place, leaving them open to attack or subdued. The inverse of this is when a Force user sits at the eye of the storm and allows the maelstrom to swirl around them, attacking opponents.
Noteworthy practitioners: Kalja Sairu Leidias
This telepathic ability is used by both light side and dark side to manipulate the minds of others, so the core concept is the same. However, each side has perfected certain tricks under the umbrella that are specific to their alignment.
Force Powers Favored By The Dark Side
Bolt of Hatred
(Also called: Sutta Chwituskak)
An ancient technique used by the Sith, it gives the Force user the ability to create a sphere made of the energy of pure hate, which they can then fling at a target. On impact, the sphere causes both great mental and great physical damage.
Noteworthy practitioners: Queen Amanoa, Novar, Thannor Keth, King Ommin
Dark Side Web
In this technique, the user can summon strands of dark side energy to weave a web and trap the prey in an unbreakable weave. The web severs the target’s connection to the Force and their strength will be leeched away. Advanced practitioners can use the web to slice through targets by constricting the web ever tighter.
Noteworthy practitioners: Lomi Plo, Sarasu Taalon
Invisible laser eyes. This is basically invisible laser eyes. The dark side of the Force enables a user to channel the user’s hatred and rage into concentrated energy, inflicting pain and injury onto their enemies with a simple look. At higher levels, a victim’s body will smoke and burn away. The technique can be used on large groups of people, unfortunately, it’s an AOE power and allies caught in the crossbeams of Deadly Sight feel the same effects as enemies.
Noteworthy practitioners: Sariss
This is the first of the dark side abilities under the Mind Trick umbrella. It goes much deeper than a simple scanning of someone’s thoughts and is akin to mind rape. It’s a violent process that steals deep memories and stored knowledge from a target, usually without their permission, often leaving the victim psychologically damaged in the process. In extreme cases, the target is completely broken mentally. Not a pretty power.
Noteworthy practitioners: Revan, Jerec, Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, Darth Maul
Think of Iron Man’s repulsor beams without the need for a suit. Using this offensive ability, a dark side user can channel energy and direct it through their hand, using it to obliterate objects or living creatures. It requires a great deal of energy, and new practitioners often have difficulty controlling the blast, sometimes burning their hand with the force of the energy.
Noteworthy practitioners: Queen Amanoa, Aleema Keto, King Ommin, Vitiate
A minor variation of the Force Grip ability, this involves using telekinetic powers to “grip” someone around their throat, mentally cutting off their air and choking them. It can be used to kill but is considered a display of dominance in the Sith world, often used to show subordinates that one is in control or to teach a lesson when an underling has disappointed. A reminder of who’s boss, if you will.
Noteworthy practitioners: Darth Vader
(Also called: Dark Healing, Drain Life, Death Field)
This is the dark side version of Force Absorb, and nothing to mess with. Where Force Absorb merely takes the energy hurled at you by an opponent, Force Drain actively siphons the life force of an opponent. It can be used to simply drain the life of an enemy or, taken a step further, that siphoned life force can then be used to replenish a user’s energy or to heal themselves. Force Drain can also be used as an AOE power, in that instance called Death Field, where the effect of the drain can be extended to a wider radius of dark side energy. Anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the sphere will be drained and withered. Yeah. Not pretty.
Noteworthy practitioners: Darth Revan, Darth Sidious, Vitiate, Abeloth, Darth Nihilus, others
This is the deadlier version of the Force Choke, which is simply meant to scare or threaten. The Grip is meant to kill, using the Force to crush an opponent’s internal organs or strangle them to death. When a user is powerful enough, they can lift a target in the air, snapping their neck or killing them from the inside. Occasionally, a victim can escape if they manage to break the user’s concentration or obscure their vision, but the most powerful Force Grip users are able to maintain their focus.
Noteworthy practitioners: Count Dooku, Darth Vader
(Also called: Sith Lightning)
The infamous Sith Lightning is an energy attack used primarily by the Sith. Force Lightning gives the user the ability to channel electricity down their arms and shoot bolts of lightning from the fingers of one or both hands. It causes not only great physical damage to a target but also great spiritual and emotional damage, and thus is often used as a method of torture by more sadistic Sith. More skilled users can channel it into multiple forks, hitting many targets at once, or unleash it as chain lightning, with the electrical bolts jumping from target to target. Interestingly, it requires an organic organism to channel the electrical energy, which is why Darth Vader was never able to use it, having prosthetic limbs.
Noteworthy practitioners: Darth Sidious, Darth Tyranus, Snoke, Mother Talzin
Dark side users, namely the Sith, have the ability to conjure up illusions in an elaborate technique. The illusions of these apparitions are so lifelike that they can interact with the world around them while manipulated by the conjurer. It requires first hooking one’s consciousness into the mind of a target and then linking one’s consciousness to a second person like a parasite. The second person’s projection is then manipulated by the conjurer, usually completely unaware they had been possessed and controlled in such a way.
Noteworthy practitioners: Darth Vectivus, Velok, Darius Malakai (who can summon shadowy forms without the need of an anchor)
If you can imagine something even more devastating than Force Lightning, this is it. It is essentially the peak of a Sith Lord being able to manipulate electrons and electricity. The user creates a swirling of electrons around its target which are then unleashed in an explosion of electricity in a devastating AOE attack. It can also be used to create artificial wormholes in order to traverse space almost instantaneously. However, in this case, it’s devastating if not carefully controlled.
Noteworthy practitioners: Revan, Darth Sidious
Hand of Mathsin
This is potentially the weirdest and most pointless power on the list. Another power derived from ancient Sith magic (as all Sith powers seem to be), it requires the use of a specially enchanted (and rare) amulet or location. Once accomplished, the user can then amputate their own hand and direct like they would if it were still attached to their arm, keeping it alive indefinitely. Like I said: weird and pointless. It’s not even given an official name in canon, that’s how dumb it is.
(Also called: Mindforms)
Straightforward illusion magic here. The Sith and other dark side walkers are able to create vivid, powerful astral projections of whatever they choose. These projections are not just visible, but will affect all five senses of the viewer and those who interact with the projections. Illusions can be used by lightsiders, but are mainly used by Sith for their potential to cause fear and mental anguish. Naturally, the Sith use these apparitions to torment others, often conjuring hideous creatures or manifestations of their target’s deepest fears. It can be disrupted with light magic, but only by a powerful user.
Noteworthy practitioners: Darth Sirena, Naga Shadow, Aleema Keto, Vitiate
This ability is rare but powerful, requiring Sith conjuring magic. A person can summon the spirit of a dead darksider and call upon that spirit to lend them their power. It requires the summoner to completely surrender themselves to the dark side, so it’s a dangerous ability that few have used.
Noteworthy practitioners: Queen Amoana, Darth Sirena
(Also called: Qâzoi Kyantuska, Suppress Thought)
Mind Control falls under the broad category of Mind Tricks, but, as always, darksiders and the Sith especially use it to violate and control others. While Jedi use it in subtle ways, via telepathic suggestion, the Sith will infiltrate a victim completely, fully taking over their faculties and forcing the victim to do whatever the darksider commanded.
Noteworthy practitioners: Exar Kun, The Devaronian Cartariun
(Also called: Darkness, Confined Dark Force Storm)
This is a powerful and flashy ability that conjures up a storm of darkness. A user can tap into the dark side in order to shroud the sky and surroundings in darkness, which then turns into storm clouds of darkness accompanied by roaring thunder. It’s a debilitating power that causes intense pain for those caught in its wake, along with a sense of despair and hopelessness. For those who are Force-sensitive, it feels as if they are being cut off from the Force. Only the most powerful light side practitioners can withstand its effects.
Noteworthy practitioners: Queen Amanoa, Novar, Freedon Nadd
It really feels like we’ve waded into the tabletop waters now, doesn’t it? If you’ve ever played D&D, then you know exactly what this power is: The ability to send the target into waves of hysteria, overwhelmed by their worst fears and panic. The intensity and duration of the spell rely on the caster and the results can vary greatly. Someone who is only the target of Summon Fear for a brief time might shake it off with only foggy memories, while someone under the duration of an intense Summon Fear casting for a prolonged period of time might come out of it with their mind destroyed, comatose and trapped in their mind fighting their deepest nightmares forever.
Noteworthy practitioners: Darth Zannah, Dread Masters, Freedon Nadd
Waves of Darkness
Not to be confused with Summon Darkness, this is a completely different thing and refers to emotional and spiritaul darkness, not literal physical darkness. By concentrating deeply on the darkness within, a user can channel all their negative emotions – hatred, anger, jealousy, rage, frustration – and then unleash them in a psychic wave. The immediate effect is that it causes confusion and a disoriented feeling to all caught in its radius, then forces them to flee in fear.
Noteworthy practitioners: Queen Amanoa, Novar, Freedon Nadd
Force Powers Favored By The Light Side
This is both an offensive and defensive maneuver for light side users. Conjuring up a powerful burst of light, the flash temporarily blinds the target. Used offensively, it can be useful in battle by disorienting an attacker and rendering them unable to see where their opponent is. Used defensively, it can blind an attacker long enough for the light side user to get away. As with most light side abilities, it does not cause any permanent damage.
(Also called: Force Heal, Cure, Health)
This is exactly what you think it is. Tapping into the powers of the Force, light side users are able to use it to speed up healing. As with most powers, the more skilled the practitioner, the more complex feats they’re able to perform. At its greatest heights, Force Healing can mend bones, internal organs, and other severe injuries. It does, however, have its limits. It can’t regenerate limbs that have been completely severed or bringing someone back from death. Unlike with Dark Healing, damage healed through Force Healing is permanent.
Noteworthy practitioners: Cilghal, the Skywalkers, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Barriss Offee, others
This is one of the most powerful abilities lightsiders have, one that requires so much power that typically only the most skilled Jedi Masters can wield it. Channeling the light side of the Force into devastating blasts of light energy, it can be used to diminish or purge dark side energy from people, places, and objects. It can also be used to weaken or even completely sever a darksider’s connection to the Force. Third, it can be used to sever a Sith Battlelord’s connection to their followers. There is not yet a way for a darksider to overcome such a powerful display of the light side of the Force, so it’s one of the greatest abilities a lightsider can wield – if they can master it.
Noteworthy practitioners: Arca Jeth, Yaddle, Ben Skywalker, Nomi Sunrider, Jacen Solo, others
Force Valor is essentially a battle enhancement ability. It increases the speed, accuracy, resolve and dexterity of onself and allies in battle. By tapping into the Force, a user can increase the natural limit of one’s own bodily and mental capacities, and those of allies, allowing them to function at a higher level. Strikes are harder, movement is swifter, and hits are pinpoint accurate. It goes hand-in-hand with Battle Meditation with Force Valor covering the physical and Battle Meditation being more about the mental component.
Noteworthy practitioners: Yoda, Meetra Surik, and Revan (one of the few Sith who could tap into this light side power)
Powerful light side users can turn their power inward to slow down their bodily functions including metabolism, heartbeat, and breathing, bringing all to a near standstill. The effect is so complete it can trick others into believing the person dead. A fully-trained lightsider can stay in this state of deep hibernation for up to four days, allowing them to fake death, survive in extremely hostile environments, or even to delay and offset the effects of serious injury until they can get to a location in which it can be properly treated.
Noteworthy practitioners: Cade Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Kreia, Bela Kiwiiks, others
Similar to Force Blindness, Malacia is a light side ability that can be extremely debilitating and uncomfortable but causes no permanent damage to the target. In effect, a light side user can turn a person’s own body against them, messing with their equilibrium and causing extreme dizziness, vertigo, and powerful waves of nausea. It’s rarely ever used, but can be powerful when it is.
Noteworthy practitioners: Oppo Rancisis, Plo Koon
Jedi Mind Trick
Like many powers on this list, it falls under the category of Mind Trick, though in the Jedis’ case, it’s used in a very different way than by the Sith. Unlike the dark side version of dominating a victim’s mind completely in order to control it, the Jedi version is less invasive and works by working with the target’s mind itself rather than against it. It’s usually evoked by waving a hand in front of a person’s face and planting a suggestion in their mind that will influence them to comply with the Jedi’s wishes. Think of it as fast-acting version of what they do in Inception.
Noteworthy practitioners: Pretty much every lightsider and Jedi ever
Technically, this is a universal power, but considering it’s only ever used by Jedi, I’m putting it under the light side category. Predominantly used by dual-wielding members of the New Jedi Order, it involves using telekinetic powers to whirl the lightsabers around the user in a horizontal ring, creating a swirling barrier of lightsaber blades. It’s particularly effective in melee attacks, being defensive but deadly.
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